Ryanair Airlines CEO Comments Suggest Safety Not A Priority


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Ryanair Airlines CEO Comments Suggest Safety Not A Priority

By Mike Mitchell

September 5, 2010 - Ryanair, Ireland’s low-cost airline, Chief Executive Officer Michael O'Leary was recently interviewed by Bloomberg Businessweek, in which O'Leary made comments which bring into question his ability to operate the air carrier safely and his ability to intellectually be a critical thinker when it comes to the safe operations of their flights.

O'Leary questioned by Bloomberg Businessweek, asked why are two pilots are needed to fly an aircraft. O'Leary further stated, “Really, you only need one pilot…. Let’s take out the second pilot…. let the bloody computer fly it.” O'Leary was asked, “What happens if the pilot has a heart attack?" O'Leary suggested that flight attendants should learn to fly and “if the pilot has an emergency, he rings the bell, he calls her in… she could take over.”


The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), a multi-national organization that oversees the common safety and regulatory standards has set aviation requirements for commercial air transportation and one of their requirements under "Accident prevention and flight safety program" requires that operator shall establish and maintain an accident prevention and flight safety program. Ring a rings the bell during an emergency would not be acceptable under current regulations.

Aviation safety experts, airline pilot and flight attendant unions and consumer groups now question O'Leary's ability to oversee the airline safely. Jim McAuslan, the general secretary of the British Airline Pilots’ Association said, “Are there no lengths to which he will not go to get publicity? His suggestion is unwise.” Kate Hanni, the founder of FlyersRights stated, “He insults the dignity of the flying public every time he opens his mouth.” Perhaps O'Leary should become familiar with current regulations on crew member requirements (JAR-OPS 1: Commercial Air Transportation -Airplanes).

O'Leary has a reputation for loose talk in the airline industry and among its regulators. Many press articles have often described him as arrogant and prone to making comments which he later undercuts. He has been extravagantly outspoken in his public statements, sometimes resorting to personal attacks and foul language. His abrasive management style, ruthless pursuit of cost-cutting and his explicitly hostile attitude towards corporate competitors, airport authorities, governments, unions and customers has become a hallmark. (See Ryanair In The Dock – BALPA At The TUC)


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